Gearóid calls for Greenway investment in Tipperary

stolen rail pic
map of Stolen Railway – (Trish Purcell, NTLP)

The Green Party has called for Tipperary to be prioritised in upcoming investment in Greenways. The call was made in the Party’s submission to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s consultation on the Future Development of Greenways.

Speaking today, Green Party Representative in Tipperary, Gearóid Fitzgibbon, said: “Greenways should be a key part of our public transport network. Not only do they provide great walking and cycling experiences for recreation, they also have a transformative effect on areas in which they are built – they can provide a major boost for the local economy, as well as the obvious health benefits.

“We want Tipperary to be prioritised in the upcoming Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport strategy on Greenways.

“Tipperary offers two potential routes for greenways which could provide great benefit to underserved rural areas. Both of these have strong community backing, and the potential to add value to existing tourist offerings. The “Stolen Railway” is the remains of a rail link that existed for just 10 years between 1868 and 1878 between Birr and Portumna, which crosses the northernmost parish of north Tippe

rary has considerable potential as a future greenway project. The route was identified in the Lorrha Rathcabbin Community Action Plan 2016-2019 which was completed in 2016 by North Tipperary LEADER Partnership with funding under the Social Inclusion programme. Utilising the redundant transport infrastructure of the Stolen Railway as an off road pedestrian/cycle route could make it an exemplar of sustainable development of rural recreation and activity based tourism. This route could provide the basis of a day cycle tour that takes in the sites of Portumna, Lorrha, Lakeen Castle and Birr. It would also link into the existing Ormond Way and 300km Beara Breifne Way.

“The disused rail line between Roscrea and Portumna which closed in the 1960s also offers a significant opportunity. An existing Tipperary and Offaly Greenway Committee has secured agreement from landowners along the route to carry out a feasibility study on the project. This trail could in turn connect with the Grand Canal Greenway plan. Working with local committees like the Social and Community Enterprise group in Lorrha Rathcabbin (SCÉAL), and the Tipperary and Offaly Greenway Committee could provide a major environmental and economic boost for the entire region.

“State investment in cycle infrastructure in general, and greenways in particular, has consistently ranked highly in cost-benefit analysis. In addition to providing a valuable local transport link and recreational resource, greenways yield benefits to public health and to local economies. The priority in the development of a Greenways Strategy should be a firm commitment to make the necessary investment of public funds to provide this infrastructure.” For further information/comment, contact Gearóid on: 085 7409023

bear bref pic
Beara Breifne Way in Lorrha (by Trish Purcell, NTLP)

 

Private towns and The End of The Small Shop

           A recent campervan trip on the continent had us driving through Britain and France. There, you are struck by the giant retail parks – Harvey Norman, Halfords, HomeStore, B&Q, Carrefour, Intermarché, Cora, E. Leclerc,  etc. Everywhere the same pattern – giant retail parks and old towns closing down.
In Britain, you passed through towns, that you knew were finished, Their high streets had just the right mix of bargain bin discount stores, betting shops and boarded up local stores, to show which way the wind was blowing. In France, one is even more surprised – in the country that so vaunts its local food, small shops and markets, the battle is long lost. Most medium sized towns are pretty much closed in terms of small shops and businesses – it’s all happening in the local Intermarché. Even some of the cities are struggling – the city of Rennes that I visited 15 years before, seems a shadow of itself. Enormous retail parks have been built on or just off the ring road around the city, including an IKEA. The city centre has been left to the students, graffiti artists, and strung out frequenting its many bars and pubs.

The giant retail parks on the edge of our cities and towns mark a huge change in the life that grew up around crossroads, river crossings, lakes, mountain passes, around local sources of industry, coal, steel, agriculture. Our market centres gave us the town square, high street, the town hall, the agora or public space. Our democracy itself, you could argue, originated in the public square, where people met, discussed or demonstrated. The new retail parks are private towns. Controlled by large companies. Company laws apply, enforced by the company police.

– And sure isn’t that just what people want? Aren’t you comfortable in your romantic notions of local food, and small local shops? People don’t live like that anymore. People lead busy lives, and the few hours they have off at the weekend, they want to be able to go to one place and get everything they need… QUICKLY!

– Sure, but was this a decision we made together? “Ok so we’re going to close the local shops, and build large new private towns on the edge of towns, that people must drive to. It will be quicker for people to get their shopping done, are everyone will be happier.” Is that what we decided? Did the planners say we needed that? Or did weak civic political society drift into that, led by the bigger budgets and wallets of superstore developers?

What does that mean for our towns and cities? The quote that England was a “nation of shopkeepers” meant, in the words of economist Adam Smith, that it was nation “whose government was influenced by shopkeepers”, a reference to the civic mindedness of England’s commerical class, and small business owners. What now for such or similar nations? Is a self-employed small shopkeeper necessarily more civic minded than the employee of the large multiple, working week to week? And what will be the impact on our countries, further down this road, if we are all more transient, if all our public spaces are privately owned, and we all work week to week. We get a ‘proletarianisation’ of small business. Does this mean we invest the same in our locality as a town of 20 or 30 independently owning small shopkeepers? Do I volunteer with my local sports club or community group – if I know that, very possibly, I’m out of here in a few months? Could it mean another shift in power away from the already frayed active citizen?

According to Professor Kevin M. Leyden from the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI Galway,  ‘Small local shops have an economic multiplier effect as they use local solicitors, accountants and web designers. They advertise in local media. Profit tends to stay in the area while the corporate supermarket pays dividends to shareholders. Crucially, the local shop has been the first job for many young people. It has been estimated that up to 52% of a local shops revenue is recirculated in the local economy compared to only 13.6% of a national chain’s revenue.’ (source: P.10, Report on the Community Retail Conference, Horse & Jockey, Tipperary)

Principled Campaign Doubles Green Vote in Tipperary

On behalf of Tipperary Greens and myself, I want to thank the 1341 citizens of Tipperary who chose to put a No.1 on the ballot paper beside myself and the Greens, and the 10000 plus voters who gave a No.2 or high preference.

You have doubled our vote as a percentage of votes cast from 0.8% to 1.7%

It was a good showing with a short run in and a small but dedicated team. We got to talk about the potential of localising energy to transform our local economy. We also got to challenge the other candidates on how politics is done in Ireland.

Some of the campaign team at the count centre in ThurlesI want to thank everyone who helped out or assisted in any way. The enthusiasm and belief of our campaign team inspiring. 75 people donated €3700 in just over a month – these were friends, family, colleagues and others who I did not know before. Their support allowed us to get into the arena and compete.

We ran a strong and principled campaign. I would like to see us go on from here and build a network of rural green supporters and activists.

Still a long way off - but in the arena

I ask anyone who gave a vote or a preference to consider getting involved. Let’s ensure that the unique green perspective is given to community issues in Tipperary – whether on planning, the economy, the environment or issues of social justice.

Get in touch on tipperarygreen@gmail.com text 083-8109522 or facebook.com/TipperaryGreens

Nationally with 2 Green TD’s now in the Dáil (Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin) and at 2.72% of the national vote, the Greens return to being a nationally funded party.

Pre-Voting Message from Gearóid

Final campaign message final editIt has been a great honour to take part in the general election campaign in Tipperary

I stood in the election to raise the issues of changing our energy system and moving away from the favours based politics that we have become known for. Having worked with communities for the last 10 years, I understand the difference these changes can make to the county.

With a local subscriber-financed campaign, and the support of a dedicated team, we have tried to make a difference in this campaign.

Whatever your colour, I ask you to give me your number 1 vote tomorrow and send a message to the country that Tipperary is ready to lead again. With our transferrable vote system, if your no. 1 doesn’t make the cut, your no.2 is still as good as a no. 1.

I thank you for your support.

If you have time, do share the following text with friends & colleagues: “Gearóid Fitzgibbon is running in the election on the themes of localising our energy system and better politics. Do consider giving him a 1 on Friday to put this on the agenda for the county and country. More info here gfitzgibbon.wordpress.com  ”

Don’t forget to like our campaign page Gearóid Facebook Campaign Page

On this blog http://www.gfitzgibbon.wordpress.com we also have video, audio and other clips.
On twitter @gearoid4green @TippGreens
Finally you can listen to my campaign song – composed, and performed by myself – http://www.bit.ly/newtipperary
Beir bua,
Gearóid
Radio/Audio clips: Audio clips with Gearóid
Youtube: Gearoid4Green

Community Development Legend endorses Fitzgibbon Policy on Closing TDs Offices

One of the key messages of Gearóid Fitzgibbon’s campaign is to put an end to our habit of selecting our politicians on the basis of personal often imaginary favours done for the public. Gearóid is proposing to close down the local constituency offices – work done here would be better carried out in the Citizen Information Service.

Gearóid outside the Canon Hayes Resource Centre
Gearóid outside the Canon Hayes Resource Centre

After the recent Tipperary MidWest Radio election debate (Tuesday February 16th), Gearóid spoke with Tom Fitzgerald, volunteer chairperson of the Canon Hayes Resource Centre in Tipperary Town, and a legend of community development. While not publicly backing any party, Tom told Gearóid that for years he has endorsed the closing of the constituency offices. “Muintir na Tíre were the original group to propose the set-up of the Citizen Information Service. This is where people should get information, free of any favours or political string-pulling.”

Tom Fitzgerald has been doing community development work before it was even called that. In the 1950’s he began working with Canon Hayes, founder of Muintir na Tíre. “Fr. Hayes referred to community development as ‘practical Christianity’. He began his work in 1923, after the civil war; he kept peace and good relations between people in communities. The two firmly believed that change comes from the bottom up. They opened town halls and community offices in communities which brought them to life.

“He was a bit of a revolutionary to the rest of the Church, they should have given him freedom…and time”, recalled Tom Fitzgerald during his chat with Gearóid.
In 1957, Canon Hayes died, and Tom Fitzgerald continues his work to this day. Tom Fitzgerald also looks up to Pope Francis and his work; he sees that he is doing the same kind of ‘practical Christianity’ that Canon Hayes used to talk about and do.

‘Community development’, ‘practical Christianity’ or whatever name you call it is all about the people, what they have a right to and taking action at a local level so the people can achieve this right.

Gearóid Fitzgibbon is passionate about people’s right to free information without the middleman. To show his commitment to this, he will donate 35% of the €87,258 T.D.’s salary to the Citizen’s Information Centre if elected. According to Gearóid, “People have a right to the information they need. To make it a right and not a privilege, we need to replace these constituency offices with improved Citizen’s Information and Advocacy Centres – and put an end to these taxfunded vote-getting machines.”

Fitzgibbon Wants Tipperary to Lead Ireland’s Energy Transition

“One simple solution can immediately put money circulating into rural economies: Stop the waste of energy.” This was the key message of our campaign launch on Thursday evening of Tipperary Green Party.

Speaking at my campaign lauch on the theme of “Creating Rural Jobs and Investment”, Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan spoke about his own roots in the Glen of Aherlow, and how he felt green economics can have a real impact on rural communities: “I commend Gearóid for stepping forward. The impact of community development work is limited unless our country gets strong political direction. He is as good a candidate as they get – he is doing in his real life what we are all talking about.”

A number of other of guests spoke, including Con Harrington. According to Con, “You get enthused by being involved. Gearóid has brought huge enthusiasm into our community – if the rest of Tipperary know what he has done, I’m sure they would back him. The more support he gets, the more attention will be paid to his message”

I also spoke on how locally owned energy can be turned into local invesment, “The exclusive focus on Foreign Direct Investment is ignoring the massive opportunity in cutting our country’s yearly €5.7billion spend on imported energy. In Tipperary that’s €300 million per year leaving the county. Our own local authority could easily tap into European Investment Bank funding to do this across the county, to be paid back over 15-20 years. We need our government to mandate our local authorities to do this. Tipperary should be leading here. For every 1 million spent on retrofit, 25 jobs are created.”

Gearóid Fitzgibbon's campaign team with Eamon Ryan
Gearóid Fitzgibbon’s campaign team with Eamon Ryan
Gearóid Fitzgibbon speaking at his campaign lauch
Gearóid Fitzgibbon speaking at his campaign lauch
Patrick Lambe, Gearóid Fitzgibbon and Eamon Ryan
Patrick Lambe, Gearóid Fitzgibbon and Eamon Ryan
Sean O'Farrell and Con Harrington
Sean O’Farrell and Con Harrington
Tippereary Jersey signed by Eamon Ryan
Tippereary Jersey signed by Eamon Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Tellstrom, Gearoid Fitzgibbon and Eamon Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In wrapping up we thanked everyone who had attended and helped out – and the event sponsors – The Apple Farm, Longways Cider, and the Green Sheep.

My final comment was “My motivation for standing in the election is to highlight the need to use energy as a driver of rural communities. We need to develop community energy initiatives. We should have a network of 200 or 300 energy co-operatives in Ireland, like what has developed in Germany. When Horace Plunkett went out with one or two staff in the1890s, within five or six years you had 400 or 500 agricultural co-operatives set up with almost 200,000 members. Our agriculture sector is missing this opportunity. Our own state or ICOS are not backing it. For most of Tipperary’s towns and villages, there is no recovery to keep going, and Richard Bruton will never come and cut a ribbon announcing the latest arm of Google or Linked In. We need local solutions.”

Eamon Ryan in Tipperary Town for Fitzgibbon Campaign Launch

Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan, will officially launch the Tipperary Green
Party candidate, Gearóid Fitzgibbon’s election campaign on Thursday 11th February in the Excel Theatre, Tipperary Town at 7.30pm. Join the facebook event by clicking here !

Gearóid is asking that people to come along for an engaging evening on how green policies can improve the rural economy and society.

Earlier in the day there is a coffee morning at 10.30am at Country Choice in Nenagh, where there will be an opportunity to meet Gearóid and discuss the policies he is putting forward. More info available on the facebook page www.facebook.com/TipperaryGreens

Wednesday saw Gearóid on Tipp Mid West talking about tackling political cronyism and talking to students in LIT Thurles.

speaking at LIT
With Michael and Lucy of Voicebox at LIT
Unloading timber at Pattis
Unloading timber donated by Sean O’Farrell of Cloncannon Biofarm

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will launch the campaign on the theme of “Creating Rural Jobs and Investment”

Fitzgibbon says that “The Irish public has become cynical about politics. The trend towards electing independents is part of this. Through the taxpayers funded constituency office, independent TDs build a pool of support based on personal favours, but have nothing to contribute for a long term vision for our country. I am asking the voters to look at our ideas on how to produce jobs and investment for the county. My ideas on cutting Tipperary’s 300 million bill on imported energy will produce quality new jobs and local investment.”
Tipperary Greens are not funded from the public purse. Their crowdfunding campaign is available on www.gofundme.com/greeningtipp  or by calling 0838109522.

No Going back now - handing the nomination papers to Returning Officer Gerard Connolly
No Going back now – handing the nomination papers to Returning Officer Gerard Connolly
Mike Fitzgibbon (Clonmel) signing the nomination papers
Mike Fitzgibbon (Clonmel) signing the nomination papers